There's an old saying...."God writes straight with crooked lines." What it means is that somehow in the most mysterious ways, God brings people together to accomplish great things in His Grand Design that can only be seen from a distance...
Quite a few years ago, Fr. Domenic J. Roscioli was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The result, Father Dom beat the life-threatening disease, but was placed on permanent disability by his doctor. Father Dom wanted to remain a priest, but because of the disability, couldn’t have his own parish. However, he continued his priest duties by helping out at different parishes, conducting weddings, funerals, baptisms and counseling.
Feeling the need to do more with his time, after his cancer went into remission, Fr. Dom started to volunteer at Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a camp for children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. He found a home there… as 2009 marked his 20th year as a volunteer! During the many years that Fr. Dom has been a volunteer at Hole in the Wall, Bill Kubicek was the assistant camp director, and ultimately became a close friend. Fast forwarding a few years, Bill went on to be the motivating force in creating an off-shoot of the Hole in the Wall camp, the Next Step...
You see, Paul Newman's camp is designed to service children up to 16 years of age. After age 16, there is nowhere for these young adults, who are really still just kids, to go like The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp... alas the inspiration for creating Next Step. Next Step got started by holding its first cancer survivor retreat in 1999. And in 2002, with the help of Paul Newman, Next Step became an independent non-profit organization providing counseling, support, and retreat weekends for young adults, up to age 40.
Since 1999, Next Step has steadily grown and increased its reach. Currently, Next Step travels around the country (and the world) hosting retreat weekends in conjunction with organizations such as the Dana Farber Institute and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The ultimate goal of Next Step is to provide a year-round camp for young adults who are battling cancer and other life threatening diseases.
Several years back, Fr. Dom offered his help to Bill and Next Step in developing an ongoing fundraising effort. Fr. Dom is the proud founder of Fr. Dom's Duck's Doo Compost, a for-profit company with a non-profit mission of charity (sound familiar?), particularly helping clean up his hometown of Kenosha’s inner-city. Perhaps Father Dom’s Duck Doo could grow and help raise some funds for Next Step??
In 2007 Jody Becker, a dear and life-long friend of Bill Kubicek, volunteered to spend a summer in Cambridge, MA to help Bill with things on the business side of Next Step, as well as spend some time with Bill & his family. To gain a better understanding of Next Step’s mission... and to just get away, have some fun, and do some good, Bill suggested they spend a week volunteering at The Hole in the Wall Camp in Connecticut. Jody was deeply moved by the vision and experience of that wonder-filled place… a place that Bill spent a good portion of his life to help create… a magic Bill is now re-creating for the most under-served segment of the population of cancer survivors - young adults.
On the way home from the camp, Bill mentioned that if there was some way Jody could help in creating a business that would donate a portion of the profits to his foundation, kind of like Newman's Own did for the Hole in the Wall, (and now many other great charities) ...that would be great. Somewhere later on the ride back to Boston, a light bulb went off in Bill's head and he thought it would be a good idea to get together Fr. Dom's offer to help with Jody's offer to help... especially since they both happen to live in Wisconsin. At the airport they agreed that Bill would get in touch with Fr. Dom and set up the meeting.
The very next morning, after the late-night flight home, Jody headed to a local food store, The Outpost (where Holy Spirits is now for sale, thank you Outpost), to get some groceries and a bite to eat. Upon walking up to the entrance, on the sidewalk, right in front of the store was a display that literally stopped Jody dead in his tracks… a display featuring Father Dom's Duck Doo. Jody had never heard of Father Dom (before Bill's mention of him) or seen the Duck Doo before... A coincidence? We don't think so! Jody immediately phoned Bill and they agreed they better get in touch with Fr. Dom… NOW... there must be a higher power at work here!
Upon leaving the Outpost, Jody bought a bag of Father Dom’s Duck Doo for his mother, Jan, and left to pick up his dog Roscoe from her house (Roscoe is the dog model on the St. Rocco wine label). Jody walked into her house, greeted the energetic Roscoe, plopped down the bag of Duck Doo and stated, “I think I have a future in Duck Doo." Needless to say his mother thought he had totally lost it.
A week or so later, Bill flew into Milwaukee and met Jody and Fr. Dom for pizza at DiCarlo's Trattoria and Pizzeria, along with Fr. Dom’s partners in the Duck Doo business. They discussed the possibilities of expanding the Duck Doo business as a way to help the Next Step raise money, shared camp stories, and enjoyed the secret family pizza recipe of DiCarlo's.
Fr. Dom and Jody went on and met for pizza weekly to continue to discuss how they could make the Duck Doo business work to help raise funds for Next Step. After a couple months and another trip to Boston, they all decided the Duck Doo wasn’t going to be a great fit for raising money for Next Step. But this is definitely NOT the end of the story!
Father Dom suggested he and Jody just continue to meet for pizza and discuss ideas and see what happens. The result, AN UNLIKELY AND GREAT FRIENDSHIP WAS BORN! Deep thoughts were shared and a lot of CRAZY IDEAS were discussed and laughed about… Then about a year later, Fr. Dom, inspired after a week of volunteering at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, came back to town and over pizza, said he had an idea… that he always wanted to have a "Father Dom’s Divine Wine" (as making wine in his basement he loves, and carries on from his father and grandfather), but what if... instead of HIS name and face, we put The Saints on the labels to bring the Saints marching back into peoples homes and lives??? Hmm, that idea may just work…
One day shortly thereafter, the owner of DiCarlo's, Carlo Pedone, joined Fr. Dom and Jody at the table where they shared the idea. Inspired by the mission, and with experience in dealing with wine, Carlo offered his help... He helped research some wineries needed to make this mission happen. During an ensuing meeting, a rep from Windsor Winery happened to be visiting DiCarlo’s… and Carlo made the connection, knowing Windsor made great wine, and just may be willing to provide the wine for Holy Spirits.
The idea quickly started to become reality. Carlo offered to provide some assistance with investment money to get Holy Spirits off the ground quickly. And shortly thereafter, with Jody's background and expertise in business and marketing, the idea became a plan.
Fr. Dom and Jody actually believe that there may be something in that secret family pizza recipe that brought Holy Spirits to life! Perhaps one day, we will present a patron saint of pizza as one of our featured wines…
Holy Spirits officially got off the ground on December 2, 2008 with a kick-off celebration, and more importantly a fundraiser for two special people, a friend of Father Dom’s, Mark Tylinski, and a friend of Jody’s, Kathleen Wunderlich, both fighting in the struggle of their lives against terminal cancer. God Bless you Mark Tylinski and Kathleen Wunderlich, you are remembered.
Throughout 2009, Holy Spirits started to gain momentum and Jody’s mother, Jan, decided to join the mission. Jan recently sold the business she ran for 25 years, and began with Holy Spirits by helping Jody & Fr. Dom keep up with all the fundraising events. Jan has since devoted her full time to helping the mission and business grow in Wisconsin and beyond!
So that's who we are, what we are all about, and how Holy Spirits came to be. Could it be luck... DiCarlo's pizza... or God's Grand Design? Perhaps all three.
A BIG SPECIAL THANKS…
To Charlie Zunda and all the people at Zunda Design Group for capturing, in beautiful art, the mission of Holy Spirits as portrayed on all of our labels. And because they are moved by our mission, they provide the designs free of charge... THANK YOU AGAIN! Zunda Design Group provides the fantastic and innovative designs you see on Newman’s Own Products.
To Carlo Pedone for seeing the vision and providing the assistance to help get Holy Spirits up and running quickly.
And last... to, and in memory of, a GREAT man, Paul Newman. It is amazing how many good people have come together from all over the world through the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and how one man's vision can bring out the best in us. Thank you Paul Newman… Thank you from thousands of hearts, already touched and still to be moved.
AND TO YOU FOR JOINING US ON OUR MISSION…
- Fr. Domenic J. Roscioli & Jody Becker
Co-Founders - Holy Spirits, LLC